Martin Johnson insisted England's summer Test series against Argentina is the ideal place for those on standby for the British & Irish Lions to sharpen their claws.
Delon Armitage and Tom Croft were both surprise omissions from Ian McGeechan’s 37-man squad while England captain Steve Borthwick was one of three RBS 6 Nations captains to be overlooked.
But all three could come into the Lions’ plans when the inevitable injuries strike, although Borthwick’s hopes look slim because he has not had any contact from the Lions about being on standby.
“You know how those guys are feeling. I texted a few of the guys last week and reminded them that injuries happen on Lions tours,” said Johnson.
“Look at Tomas O’Leary on Friday night. Things will change again during the tour or possibly before the tour.
“We have an important tour ourselves and if there are injuries in South Africa the best place they can be is playing tough competitive rugby so if they are needed they can slip right over there.”
With England providing eight players for the Lions - including experienced heads like Phil Vickery, Joe Worsley and Simon Shaw - Johnson will turn to the next generation to fill a number of the vacancies.
The likes of Harlequins duo Jordan Turner-Hall and Chris Robshaw have both impressed this season.
But after ending the RBS 6 Nations on a high with successive home wins against France and Scotland, Johnson insisted England’s two-Test series against the Pumas will be no experimenting ground.
“This is not a development tour,” he said.
“We are there to win the Test matches. I don’t want people to think it doesn’t matter because it is a development tour. We will put out our best team available to win that Test match.
“If I get the vibe off some people - not within our party but around - that this is a development tour, it is under the radar. No it is not. It is England versus Argentina.
“We have won two Test matches on the trot and we want to make that three the next time we play.
“There are spaces there that need to be filled. There will be some guys who obviously want to push into the senior group.
“Lewis Moody has been injured all year and he is now fit and there are a few others in that category as well.”